BE: Cutler vs. McCown edition

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
8:00
AM ET
You had to know after Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman made the decision to go with Jay Cutler as the starting quarterback Sunday at Cleveland over Josh McCown, pretty much the entire country would weigh in.

So here at Bears Essentials, we've decided to give you a cross-section of some of the takes being written.

Until Cutler actually plays in the game and proves or disproves Trestman’s steadfastness in making the enigmatic quarterback his starter over McCown, nobody’s right or wrong. So let’s get into this.

-- In case you missed it, ESPNChicago.com columnist Jon Greenberg digs into the Cutler-McCown debate and makes some salient points. Nobody’s arguing whether Cutler is the better quarterback. The question is whether now is the right time to throw Cutler back into the lineup. Greenberg writes:

"Cutler versus McCown, two good friends pitted against each other in the public forum, was a fun storyline, and maybe a legitimate debate about the short-term moreso than the long-term viability of re-signing Cutler. It's not risky to start Cutler. It just might be safer to start McCown."

To me, that last line is the crux of the argument.

Greenberg adds: "Cutler should be the missing piece of the puzzle. He needs to be efficient and deadly from the opening series. 'There's pressure to make the playoffs every game,' he said. 'This is my eighth year. I've been down this road before.' That's kind of what we're afraid of."

-- The crew over at ESPNChicago.com debate on Four Downs whether starting Cutler is the right move. I think it is. Jeff Dickerson writes:

"The Bears have no reason to sit Cutler on Sunday if the quarterback is medically cleared to play. That has been the organization's stance since Cutler suffered the high ankle-sprain in the Detroit Lions game on Nov. 10. Cutler is the starting quarterback when healthy. It's too late to go back. Plus, it would be nice to see what Cutler can accomplish in the offense over the final three games given that McCown basically lit the world on fire coming off the bench. Cutler's effort down the stretch is likely to directly impact the kind of money he can demand on the open market. This is a crucial stretch for Cutler that could shape the remainder of his career. He deserves the right to play Sunday. And the Bears can always go back to McCown if Cutler struggles badly against the Browns."

-- Ross Tucker at the Sporting News believes Trestman made the wrong call in naming Cutler the starter over McCown.

-- Chris Burke over at Sports Illustrated dives into the debate, using an interesting baseball analogy to kick things off. Burke writes:

"There is a vocal group among baseball analysts who believe that the use of a closer is a fabricated, unnecessary strategy. There are inherent flaws, they argue, in using the same pitcher to attempt to finish games regardless of the situation.

"And, in essence, that’s what Marc Trestman is doing by going back to Jay Cutler for Week 15. Cutler was the Bears’ starting quarterback prior to getting hurt, players and coaches said they still considered Cutler the starter even when he was out of the lineup, and now he is back in the No. 1 role.

"Trestman has deemed Cutler his closer, regardless of what stats and possibly even common sense tells him."

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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